Getty Zach LaVine
Chicago Bulls star guard Zach LaVine released a 3-pointer with 10.8 seconds left that proved to be the dagger in a 111-108 comeback upset over the Portland Trailblazers on Tuesday night.
Shuffle off the screen into a closed step back… @ZachLaVine with the dagger! #GameSkillsGameResults pic.twitter.com/NE7UoVMVLx
— Drew Hanlen (@DrewHanlen) January 6, 2021
LaVine couldn’t have played the hero role better as he scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half to aid a 20-point Bulls comeback. But after the game, LaVine was brutally honest about the team’s performance.
When asked if Chicago would have won Tuesday’s game had it occurred a year ago, LaVine gave a sharp response.
LaVine added, “I think that’s a good way to say it: You learn from your mistakes over the years. This is a different mentality we have this year. Even with the losses we have had, we’re learning from them. We did a good job of fighting back (Tuesday).”
After an embarrassing start to the season that included a pair of blowouts and an inability to close out a win over the Golden State Warriors, the Bulls have since won four of their past five games and own a .500 record at 4-4 on the season.
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Bulls Overcome Odds in Upset
Chicago’s current streak of success has come despite missing four regular contributors due to COVID-19 health protocols in Lauri Markkanen, Ryan Arcidiacono, Chandler Hutchinson and Tomas Satoransky.
The Bulls didn’t own the lead until late in the fourth quarter in a game that tested the young unit. Thaddeus Young echoed LaVine’s message after the game that last year’s Bulls team would not have persevered.
“Last year, I think if we had got down 20 points, the morale of the team would’ve kind of shifted and went down,” Young said. “This year, we’re in a completely different mindset. (Coach) Billy (Donovan) has done a great job of building up the guys’ confidence and letting the vets be vets. Me, OP, Garrett (Temple), we’re ready to go play but also help guys and keep guys’ confidence and spirits up throughout the course of the game.”
Chicago will continue to carry the lessons from an unexpected run early in the season as they plan to continue to adapt to coach Billy Donovan’s expectations and scheme.
“When that adversity hits and there are momentum swings, it’s no reason to hang your head and get down. It’s part of the game,” Donovan said. “And we’ve gotta be able to compete through those moments. I thought our guys did a good job of competing.”
Bulls in Striking Distance of Ending Ridiculous Run
The Bulls have a chance to end what’s approaching a four-year run under .500 when they face the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
NBC Sports’ Rob Schaefer reported that the last time the Bulls’ record was above .500 at any point in a season was March 2, 2017.
The makeup of the team? Jerian Grant, Dwayne Wade, Jimmy Butler, Bobby Portis and Robin Lopez made up the starting lineup.
While this year’s group doesn’t have nearly the same veteran star power, they do present the bedrock of the new front office’s vision for Chicago after years of futility.